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Here are the top gaming, tourism headlines for 2023

Updated January 1, 2023 - 10:00 am

Every January, we look back at the joys and failures of the previous year.

Years ago, I decided to write a New Year’s column predicting the top stories of the coming year and produce a scorecard showing how well I did previously.

Although my crystal ball has a few cracks in it, I soldier on. Here’s how I did for 2022:

The Oakland Athletics will abandon plans for a Strip baseball stadium to stay in Oakland. Technically wrong because two Strip locations continue to be in the running for a potential stadium. But I continue to believe the A’s won’t ever make it to Las Vegas.

All the major transactions that have been announced on the Strip in 2021 eventually will be approved and the deals closed. Maybe this one was too easy, but I scored 80 percent on deal closings. MGM Resorts International bought The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Hard Rock International acquired The Mirage, Apollo Global Management took over The Venetian, Palazzo and The Venetian Expo, and Bally’s manages the Tropicana Las Vegas. I missed on Caesars Entertainment announcing the sale of Planet Hollywood Resort, as the company backed off from selling any Strip asset.

Nevada regulators will have a showdown with Penn National Gaming Inc. over business partner David Portnoy of Barstool Sports. Wrong. No application from Penn, and thus no showdown.

COVID-19 and the omicron variant will continue to play havoc on the city’s convention industry. Turned out to be accurate as convention attendance still hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels.

The NFL will stage its most successful draft in history in Las Vegas and vow to return. Nailed it.

The NBA will announce that it is awarding an expansion franchise to Las Vegas to begin play in the 2024-25 season. It hasn’t happened — yet. This most likely is a prediction worthy of extending into 2023.

2023 headlines

By my count, that’s a record of three wins, two losses and a tie. So here are my predictions for 2023’s big headlines:

Nevada’s casinos will record 12 more months of gaming win revenue in excess of $1 billion. That would extend the current streak to 34 straight months, assuming that December 2022 beats the mark. The Las Vegas marketing machine has too much going for it to see a slide, with its emphasis on entertainment and sports. The new MSG Sphere at The Venetian is bound to attract even more visitors when it opens by the end of the year.

Convention attendance in Las Vegas finally will surpass 2019 levels. It has been a struggle with COVID and nonstop international flights to Las Vegas still not up to pre-pandemic levels.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s bid to discipline Steve Wynn will fail. Nevada regulators have said they are building a case against the former Wynn Resorts Ltd. CEO for damaging the reputation of gaming in the state from allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted Wynn employees. Wynn has denied the allegations against him, and the company was disciplined with a record $20 million fine in 2019. Wynn believes he’s no longer under the jurisdiction of Nevada regulators because he left the company. Regulators argue that he remains under Nevada jurisdiction and won a court case over that issue. I believe it’s highly unlikely that regulators ever conduct a hearing and, if they do, that Wynn will show up.

An international air carrier will announce nonstop flights between Las Vegas and Tokyo. The Asian market is underserved, and after last year’s Routes World conference in Las Vegas, it’s logical that some airline — maybe not a familiar brand — will fill that need.

Attendance and revenue projections for November’s Formula One race will fall short of expectations.

Gross gaming revenue in Macao will more than double in 2023 from 2022 levels. That’ll be great news for Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International, which all recently were retendered to operate for 10 years in the Chinese enclave.

Three gaming companies with ties to Las Vegas will win licensing in New York.

My crystal ball and I are now officially ready for 2023.

The Review-Journal is owned by the Adelson family, including Dr. Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Las Vegas Sands President and COO Patrick Dumont.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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